Many of us focus on taking care of our health, eating nourishing whole foods and trying to be active, all while meditating, flossing and taking time away from as many distractions as we can accommodate.
These are wonderful acts of self-care, and they’re important.
But there’s one act of self-care that is often neglected, and it might be even more important than all the others: the practice of loving yourself.
In fact, this is so often neglected that when I mention “loving yourself,” many people don’t know what that means or they think of spa treatments and back-rubs. Many of us have never consciously done it. If we have, it’s so rare as to be a long lost memory.
But it’s my belief that we should do it throughout the day, like trying to drink 8 glasses of water. We should give ourselves at least 8 doses of self love daily.
What is this “self-love” thing I’m extolling. Imagine pouring out love in your heart to someone you love dearly — what would that feel like? Now try doing the same thing for yourself. That’s self-love, and it’s a completely foreign concept for the vast majority of people.
Why It’s So Important
I mentor women 1-on-1 and in small and large groups, and pretty much everyone I meet is hard on themselves in some way. They’re hugely disappointed in themselves, angry and constantly feeling inadequate, mainly as after-affects of trauma, whether from their childhood or shock later in life.
Do you relate to this? I think most of us can find this self-flagellation flowing through us at any given time.
This is the basic problem that most of us face, every single day.
We don’t love big portions of ourselves. We beat ourselves up, all day long. We stress out about uncertainty because we don’t think we’re good enough to deal with it. We don’t trust ourselves to stick to something, because we’ve formed a bad picture of ourselves over the years. We get angry at ourselves for eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, messing up in a social situation, getting distracted and watching TV or playing video games, and so on and so on. We are harsh on ourselves, and don’t like how we look or who we are, in many ways.
This affects everything in our lives. It makes us more stressed, less happy, anxious, depressed, stuck, procrastinate, less happy in relationships, less focused, more likely to reach for comfort foods or distraction or shopping to comfort ourselves from the stress and pain of being who we are.
But if we could give ourselves love, it would start to heal all of this. Everything could shift. We could deal with uncertainty and chaos and difficulty in a much more resilient way and dynamic way.
Giving ourselves love is such an important act of self-care, and yet is rarely ever done. When this power arises within us, we have the ability to move and act in ways once foreign to us. This is especially important for those that work as leaders and influencers. Your capacity for vast amounts of self-love fuels the message you flow outwardly to your audience and people, without it, words and actions fall flat.
How to Give Yourself Love Regularly
Set reminders for yourself, everywhere you go. Put reminders on your fridge, on your computer, on your phone, on your bathroom mirror, in your car, at your desk, near your TV.
The reminders only need to be two words: “Love yourself.” or better yet, three: “I love myself”.
When you see the reminder, the act is very simple (even if it doesn’t feel natural to most people yet — give it time):
- Pause and feel any stress, pain, self-doubt, anger, frustration, anxiety you might be feeling. Let yourself actually feel it, physically in your body, for just a few moments. It’s OK to feel this.
- Now give yourself the balm of love. As weird or silly as it feels, just try it. Imagine first that you are sending love to someone you love very much — your child, your parent, your best friend. Imagine them going through difficulty, and send love from your heart to theirs, hoping to make them better. Notice how that feels in your heart. Now try it for yourself, generating the same feeling in your heart, but sending it to yourself instead.
- Feel the love as a healing balm. No matter how little you’re able to generate, feel it wash over your stress, pain, anger, doubt like warm butter soothing the pain. Let yourself receive this you’ve been craving.
It’s that simple. It only takes a few moments — feel your stress and pain, send yourself love, let yourself feel it.
Do it 8 times a day. Or a dozen, if you can. As simple as this sounds, it’s one of the most difficult things to do. We falter and freeze when the words are spoken. These feelings indicate where you are and how you feel about yourself. It takes time and practice to dissolve the ice that encapsulates our heart from our essence. Practice until the thaw arrives.
You need this care. Don’t hold it back from yourself any longer It’s truly the elegance of life you’ve been searching for so long.